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Jun 24th

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Sean Stirling

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Give them what they want…

That is the title of the opening number of this musical adaptation of the 1988 movie that starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin as a pair of con men on the French Riviera.  Well if what you want is a great evening’s entertainment then the cast of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will most certainly give you that.

Set in the fictional seaside village of Beumont-sur-Mer, Lawrence Jameson (played in the movie by Michael Caine) exudes charm and sophistication.  With the help of local detective, Andre Thibault, Lawrence tricks wealthy women into handing over their money and jewelry to him, while also stealing their hearts in the process.  All is going well until the arrival of brash swindler Freddy Benson.  Freddy is in awe of Lawrence ‘s wealth and is eager to learn from this master con man so that he too can have “Great Big Stuff.”

Following Freddy’s training Lawrence decides that there is not enough room in Beumont-sur-Mer for two con-men and so a bet is made that whoever can charm $50,000 dollars out of new arrival Christine Colgate will be allowed to stay while the loser will have to leave.  Freddy stoops to great lengths to win Miss Colgate’s attention and money but is thwarted at every turn by Lawrence.

This adaptation features a very witty book by Jeffrey Lane that remains mostly faithful to the original screenplay but with the addition of a new sub-plot where sidekick Andre makes a play for Muriel Eubanks, one of the wealthy women previously duped by Lawrence.

Music and lyrics are by Tony Yazbek, who also provided the score for the musicalized version of The Full Monty.    The main theme of the show echoes the Henry Mancini scores of the Pink Panther movies.  Lawrence’s musical motifs are suitably Cole Porter-esque while Freddy gets down right funky.

The production is directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, who is well known on Broadway and in the West End for his work on hit shows such as Legally Blonde, Kinky Boots and Hairspray.  The man’s love and respect for musical theatre is apparent in everything he does and he makes this production a sheer delight to watch.  He even goes so far as to break down the fourth wall in some clever places.

Leading this production and following in the footsteps of Michael Caine and Steve Martin are West End stalwart Michael Praed as Lawrence and former pop star Noel Sullivan as Freddy.  Praed plays Lawrence as the perfect English gentleman worthy of 007 while Sullivan is a lovable rogue.  They are supported by Mark Benton (Andre) and Geraldine Fitzgerald (Muriel) who make a lovely comic pairing reminiscent of Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold in Gigi.  Coming in between the boys is Carley Stenson as Christine Colgate who plays the role with a charm and zest.  A terrific ensemble bring energy and flare to each well executed production number.

 A simple but beautiful set designed by Peter McKintosh and lit well by Howard Harrison allowed the audience to be transported to the French Riviera.

 This musical comedy is simply the sizzling must see of the summer.  I was lucky to see the original West End run at the Savoy Theatre last year and am so happy to report that this touring version has retained all of the original prestige that will delight audiences up and down the UK.  

 

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Tue 23 June– Sat 4 July

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

 

 

Jun 17th

Calamity? What calamity?

By Mark Ridyard

Calamity Jane & Wild Bill Hickok - Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
PHOTO: MANUEL HARLAN

“Take me back to the black hills
The black hills of Dakota…”

It’s with these words that Calamity Jane opened last night at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow.

Not words coming from the stage, you understand – words being sung by a significant proportion of the sizeable Kings audience! On stage, a man playing a banjo; but, in the auditorium, members of the public singing heartily as he plucked the strings.

And it was this that set the tone for an enjoyable night’s entertainment, set at the “Golden Garter” in Deadwood, and featuring Jody Prenger (Winner of I’d Do Anything and West-End regular) and Tom Lister (Carl King in Emmerdale) as Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok respectively.

Before the curtain was raised, it seems like something was missing – namely, an orchestra or band sitting patiently waiting to strike-up the overture – and a few people sitting around me in the audience were quick to voice their concerns. However, Director Nikolai Foster and Musical Supervisor Catherine Jayes had played a blinder. There was no need for an orchestra in “the pit”, as all the instruments would be played by the cast on-stage throughout the entire show!

This approach really showcased the wealth of performing talent on-show, with every performer playing an instrument (violin, double-bass, trumpet etc) and even Jody Prenger herself treating us to a session on the spoons.

The set remains static throughout, with the performers helping to form certain scenes (such as the rides on the stagecoach) and subtle lighting changes transforming the Golden Garter into a classy Chicago theatre as Calamity tries to lure the popular actress Adelaid Adams back to Deadwood.

Jody Prenger’s Calamity is a both a nod to the performance of Doris Day in the 1953 film version, but also encompasses some subtle (and not-so-subtle) characterisation which brings something fresh and endearing to the role. Her singing voice, as you would expect, is bang-on-the-money but what’s noticeable its clarity, meaning that those who are new to the show can easily follow every word that she is singing and saying. Her regular “asides” to other characters in the show made for some of the biggest laughs and cheers of the evening.

Tom Lister gives a controlled yet humorous performance as Wild Bill which provides excellent chemistry in his exchanges with Calamity and allows us to see the many sides of his character.

The supporting cast, as a whole, are very strong, but particular mention should go to Sophia Ragavelas for her shy-yet-blossoming Katie Brown and Bobby Delaney for his excellent turn as Francis Fryer.

Anyone who comes to the show wanting to simply see the film version performed on stage will not get their wish – but what they will get is a lively, energetic and, at times, subtle production. And, if the audiences for the rest of this week are anything like the opening night’s, they’ll also get the chance for a big sing-song, too!

Calamity Jane is on at the Kings Theatre, Glasgow, until Saturday 20th June 2015.

Click here to buy tickets for Calamity Jane at The Kings Theatre, Glasgow

Jun 16th

The Producers, Theatre Royal Glasgow, 15th - 20th June 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

Mel Brooks’ cult film made a splash when it was first turned into a musical, winning 12 Tony awards and 3 Oliviers. However, that pedigree seemed to be lacking when we saw the curtain rise on a set that looked like it had been borrowed from West Side Story.

 

This seemed like The Producers on a budget (ironic considering the subject matter of the show) and it looks like the money has been spent on booking the big names in the cast as opposed to providing them a set worthy of the show. There were however redeeming features. Cory English as Max Bialystock provides a star turn in a role that was described by its originator (Tony award winning Nathan Lane) as “This part wasn't written with a human being in mind - at least not a human being who has to perform it eight times a week." due to the stamina and energy required for the role. Mr English has comic timing, nimble feet and great vocal control all wrapped in his deceptively round and diminutive package. Following his story as formerly successful producer, now suffering from a major flop, we then meet Jason Manford, as nervy accountant and wannabe producer Leo Bloom. Mr Manford did surprise me with his vocal ability – it was much better than I expected from someone with no training, however I would rather have just seen the role performed by someone better suited and able. The lack of dancing ability limited the options for certain sections of the show that could have helped add in some of the spectacle that we were missing in the set design.

 

To put some magic back into the show, a few nice touches have been added to freshen up this production and Tiffany Graves’ continual (and at sometimes seemingly impossible) costume changes is one that worked extremely well – except we’d ran out of money by the bows and she was back re-using an earlier costume! Producers – grab some money from the little old lady investors and buy her a nice dress for the end – please! Ms Graves’ introduction as her character Ulla is a great vehicle to show off her voice and dancing skills – I was out of breath just watching the cartwheels and high kicks, never mind thinking about trying to sing too.

 

I have always been a big fan of David Bedella, performing here as director Roger De Bris, however he was beautifully upstaged by his co-star Stephane Anelli as his ultra-camp assistant Carmen Ghia. A hard working ensemble (particularly Jay Webb) try their best to bring this show to life, but without the set pieces (in particular the ceiling mirror to allow the iconic dance section in “Springtime For Hitler”) to back them up, it all seems a little tired. Perhaps the Producers here needed to find a few more of those little old lady investors to help pay for the set and production values that this show needs.

 

 

Listing Information

 

Mon 15 – Sat 20 Jun                 

Evenings: 7.30pm                                            

Matinees: Thu & Sat at 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (booking fee)

 

0844 871 7647 (booking fee)

 

photo credit Manuel Harlan

Jun 10th

Puttin' On The Ritz - King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Sean Stirling

 

If you fancy putting on a top hat, tying up your white tie and brushing up your tails then strut those spats down to the King’s Theatre, Glasgow where this week you will be transported back to golden era of Hollywood.  Puttin’ On The Ritz – The Song & Dance Extravaganza is a celebration of many of the great songs from the movies of the 1920s, 30s and 40s including Easter Parade, Top Hat and An American In Paris to name but a few.

 This musical revue features songs by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, three composers who made significant contributions to what has become known as the Great American Songbook.  Songs such as ‘Embraceable You’, ‘Cheek To Cheek’ and ‘Anything Goes’ have become standards recorded by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and even Lady Gaga and in this production you can’t help fall in love with these songs all over again. 

Brought to life by 6 singers and a troop of 8 dancers the evening races along with memorable hit after hit.  The dancers tap, flap and jitterbug their way through routines, created by choreographer/director Emma Rogers, that would not look out of place in a Busby Berkley movie.  Every lift and turn is delivered with panache and elegance.

 The singers all have their own special moments to shine throughout the evening.  Hannah Minster gives a beautiful understated rendition of ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ while Rick Rojas delivers a sexy, bluesy ‘Minnie The Moocher’.  Soprano Lucy Van Gasse breaks hearts with ‘But Not For Me’ while Adam Ellis shows off his vocal versatility in ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ where he switches effortlessly between a rich baritone croon to a sweet light falsetto.  Simon Schofield proves himself to be a classic song & dance man in ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)’ alongside Rebecca Lisewski who later gives a thrilling performance of ‘My Man’ a song originally performed by Fanny Brice and later Barbra Streisand in the movie Funny Girl.

 Providing a Fred & Ginger element to the evening’s proceedings are special guests, Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor, both stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.  Together they wowed the audience with their dazzling routines. Kristina having to do everything Robin does, only backwards and in heels as Ginger Rogers once jibed.

 The cast are dressed in dazzling gowns and sharp suits, designed by Heather Davis, that could easily have been lifted straight from the lot at Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios.

 My only gripe is the lack of live musical accompaniment.  The cast perform to pre-recorded music.  While the recordings are well produced it detracts somewhat from the live experience that you expect when you attend the theatre.  I appreciate it is expensive to tour a band to produce the full Hollywood sound but these songs can sound just as good, sometimes better, in stripped back arrangements for a small ensemble.  Live accompaniment also would allow the singers and musicians to interact with each other and really do these songs justice.

 That aside the superb dancing and sublime singing will keep you entertained and certainly brightened up this reviewers evening.

 Puttin’ On The Ritz runs at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow until Saturday, 13th June 2015 before continuing on it’s UK tour 

 Puttin’ on the Ritz

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Tue 9 – Sat 13 Jun

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)  

Jun 2nd

SPAMALOT at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Monty Python’s irreverent spin on the Arthurian legend returns to Glasgow to taunt us for a third time as SPAMALOT, plants a large pair of armored feet at the King’s Theatre this week.

 

“We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.”, sing the Knights of the Round Table in a jolly refrain that was the inspiration for the show’s title and a good indicator for the tone of this hilarious comedy musical.  Lovingly ripped off from Monty Python’s 1975 movie, “The Holy Grail”, the show “farts in the general direction” of the Arthurian legend.  Python fans will be delighted to learn that many of the original characters and songs from the movie are faithfully recreated while new elements and characters have been added to hilarious effect.  Rest assured that alongside King Arthur and his faithful knights, we are entertained by The Black Knight (“It’s only a flesh wound”), the French Taunter (“Your mother was a hamster …”), The King of Swamp Castle (“One day lad, all this will be yours …”) and the Knights who say “Ni”!  But King Arthur and the world of musicals are mocked in equal measure with references to Lloyd Webber, ‘star’ cast headliners, camp dance routines and blatant overacting throughout.

 

Joe Pasquale dons the crown of King Arthur this time around and brings an interesting “accountant” slant to the role which I had never before considered a possibility. Comic timing was, of course, impressive as evident in the quick-fire scene where he meets Dennis Galahad (Richard Meek) for the first time.  Sarah Earnshaw (as The Lady of the Lake) was wonderfully OTT, happily lampooning the role of diva with great gusto and singing “The Diva’s Lament” to great comic effect.  Joe Tracini joins the cast in the role of Patsy (King Arthur’s faithful companion) in this third national tour.  While rarely vocal, Patsy adds a great deal to the show through physical humour and Mr. Tracini’s rendition of “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life” was a big hit with the audience.  As in the Monty Python movies, the supporting cast played several roles throughout the show displaying diverse character talents.  Jamie Tyler was particularly enthusiastic with his French Taunting.

 

The cast were given some room to revel in the classic Python script … allowing the audience to fully appreciate some of the funniest lines ever uttered on stage.  Don’t miss out on your chance for some SPAM … to say this show is a laugh a minute would be a gross understatement!  I, for one, will never trust a “cute wee white bunny” ever again.

 

SPAMALOT

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Mon 1 – Sat 6 June

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

May 2nd

Shrek the Musical at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Music is a very powerful tool when it comes to rekindling fond memories.  It can remind us of good times past in a way that no other medium can.  And now musicals can transport us to yesteryear as Broadway and West End producers endeavour, with remarkable success rates, to recreate movie classics from our past like Ghost, Willy Wonka, Matilda, The Bodyguard ... and Shrek.  Shrek takes me back to a time when my son was very young.  A family favourite movie that could be played at home again and again and never failed to bring great big belly laughs – not just from the children, but from the adults, too.  So the producers of Shrek the Musical had some very high expectations to fulfil.

 

Shrek the Musical

 

Shrek the Musical is an ugly, green, odious, odorous, bad tempered, overweight, rip roaring success!   

 

Our favourite characters from the movie are brought to colourful three dimensional life, retelling the tale of the original movie to a broadly original score of catchy characteristic tunes.

 

In case you didn’t know, Shrek (Dean Chisnall) is a large green ogre who lives alone in a swamp close to the mythical town of Duloc.  His peace is shattered as a host of Fairy Tale refugees descend upon his home having been evicted by Lord Farquaad (Gerard Carey) – the evil, pint sized (yet ambitious) ruler of Duloc.  Farquaad doesn't  want these ‘freaks’ littering the streets of his perfect town as he seeks to climb the social ladder by winning the hand of a Princess.  Shrek visits Duloc with his somewhat unwelcome companion, Donkey (Idriss Kargbo) to have a short (and likely violent) conversation with Farquaad but is, instead, persuaded to rescue Princess Fiona (played in this case by understudy, Nikki Bentley) from a tower surrounded by a lake of molten lava and guarded by a fire breathing dragon in exchange for the deeds to his swamp.  Shrek and Donkey set off on their quest blissfully unaware that Princess Fiona hides a terrible secret and that the dragon is not the only creature in that tower with a fiery temper!

 Image by Helen Maybanks

Image by Helen Maybanks

 

The story translates well to stage as the road trip / buddy story transforms nicely to blossoming romance once Shrek and Donkey rescue the Princess.  The musical score from Jeanine Tesori compliments the well known characters and lyrics from David Lindsay-Abaire add a great deal of humour that can be appreciated by audience members of all ages.  Technically, the show astonishes with smooth scene transitions, a dazzling light show and an awesome dragon brought to life by the combined talents of 3 puppeteers and the vocal skills of Candace Furbert.

Dean Chisnall impressed as Shrek striking the right balance of cantankerous ogre and likeable hulk with an admirable singing voice (albeit with an accent which strayed a little south of the border from time to time).  Idriss Kargbo’s Donkey was wonderfully energetic and demonstrated his dancing skills well.  Nikki Bentley was wonderful as Princess Fiona – a self confessed sufferer of bi-polar disorder at the same time sweet, regal, feminine, flatulent and spoiled.  However, the show was well and truly stolen by Gerard Carey as Farquaad.  I don’t want to spoil too much by describing exactly WHY he was so fabulous but it is fair to say that this was the best demonstration of physical humour I have ever witnessed on stage.  Almost “Frank N Furter” esque in delivery he was the villain that we wanted to see again and again.  Perfect.

Image by Helen Maybanks

Image by Helen Maybanks

Look out for a cameo appearance from Puss in Boots and sing along to “I’m a Believer” at the end!

Beg steal or borrow a ticket to see this amazing production on tour.  It’s ridiculously entertaining!

Shrek the Musical

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Until 17 May

Tickets £15 - £60

 

 

Book tickets:

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/shrek-the-musical/kings-theatre/#performance_tabs=tab_performances

 

Mar 18th

The King’s Speech, Theatre Royal Glasgow 16th-20th March 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

A play based on historic events, already well known from the film adaptation, starring an ex-soap star (with less than glowing reviews for recent roles) and one of the regulars from the rather high camp “Hotel Babylon” as the leads....this was not one review I was looking forward to! But in true theatrical style, I now have to eat my words as this was a thoroughly entertaining, enjoyable and even emotional production.

 

(Jason Donovan as Lionel Logue & Raymond Coulthard as George VI (Bertie) photo by Hugh Glendinning)

The story follows “Bertie” (later King George VI) and his relationship with his maverick Australian born speech therapist as he tries to overcome his stammer. And it is this relationship which provides so much of the enjoyment. Jason Donovan seems totally at ease in this role, giving energy and life throughout. His contrast to Raymond Coulthard’s excellent delivery of the uptight and put upon royal provides lots of chances for humour as their relationship grows. The relationships elsewhere in the play provide the drama and interest. As Bertie’s wife, Elizabeth (the fondly remembered Queen Mother) we see a woman with warmth and wit. Claire Lams has lots of fun with the playful side of this character although her poise and diction never once falter as only a royal should. In opposition to this, we see Myrtle Logue, mirroring her husband in humour, wit and energy. Katy Stephens is the perfect foil to Jason Donovan’s Lionel Logue and the naturalness of their relationship provides a number of touching moments. Not one performance in this production could be faulted – the strong ensemble cast have managed to elevate what could easily have been a rather staid piece of theatre into something intelligent, fun and moving.

The wonderful set design by Tom Piper is put to excellent use in Roxana Silbert’s production. The wood panels that open to create the doorways to allow seamless scene and costume changes are a brave choice in a play where people would expect a more literal recreation of scenes, but this proves that theatre should trust in imagination. The opening scene where Bertie is dressed for a ceremony sets up perfectly the choreographed movements that keep the action and artistry flowing.

Bertie’s stammer, exceptionally well portrayed by Raymond Coulthard, seems immaterial once you realise that this is a play purely about relationships, relationships as couples, as family, as friends, as competitors and power struggles. The cast capture each of these perfectly and make an evening of theatre that is beautifully entertaining. So switch off Netflix, step away from the SkyPlus, walk away from the cinema and experience real theatre as it should be done.

 

Listing Information

Mon 16 – Sat 20 March                 

Evenings: 7.30pm                                            

Matinees: Thu & Sat at 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (booking fee)

0844 871 7647 (booking fee)

Mar 6th

The Bodyguard (King's Theatre, Glasgow)

By Cameron Lowe

Alexandra Burke leads a fabulous cast in this spectacular production at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow!

Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard (Photograph of West End production) - photo by Paul Coltas

Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard (Photograph of West End production) - photo by Paul Coltas

 

Let’s be honest, musicals based on movies don’t have the best reputation on the UK touring circuit.  But, when that movie was the Hollywood debut of pop superstar, Whitney Houston, and it is packed with her greatest hits, there is certainly enough to pique the interest of even the hardest cynic.  

For those who have not experienced the 1992 movie … The Bodyguard tells the story of Rachel Marron, a pop diva making her big break into movies (sound familiar?).  Rachel is being threatened by a mysterious assassin and those who care for her hire a new Bodyguard.  Frank Farmer is a professional and makes changes that most of Ms Marron’s entourage dislike and that Ms Marron herself detests.  However, when Farmer is proved correct in his assessment of the danger, Ms Marron comes to appreciate him more.  But mixing business with pleasure does not sit well with The Bodyguard.  Has he put his client in danger?

Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard (Photograph of West End production) - Photo by Paul Coltas

Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard (Photograph of West End production) - Photo by Paul Coltas

Step forward Ms Alexandra Burke!  Alexandra doesn’t just “do” Whitney Houston … she is Whitney Houston for a new generation.  She has the power and, more importantly, the vocal finesse to deliver the full range of this amazing back catalogue of hits from the 80s and 90s.  Ms Burke went one stage further by generating a believable onstage chemistry with co-star Stuart Reid as Bodyguard, Frank Farmer.  Mr Reid had a difficult role as “the one who doesn’t sing” but he dazzled in other ways by balancing his sometimes ‘remote’ character with wit and comic timing.  In fact, both lead characters somehow manage to remain very likable despite their words and actions – very impressive.  Melissa James was delightful as downtrodden sister, Nicki.

Director, Thea Sharrock, delivered a pacey production without the tedious dramatic pauses evident in the West-End show.  The result was a lighter, more entertaining performance where the audience could appreciate the comedy sprinkled throughout the book by Alexander Dinelaris and delivered well by the supporting cast.  This show was an FX masterclass with real heat from flamethrowers felt on faces throughout the sizable auditorium of the King’s theatre.  Laser and light shows combined with breath-taking smoke effects and wonderfully cinematic wipe scene changes from Set Designer, Tim Hatley.  The set also delivered wonderful perspective effects giving the illusion of great depth; particularly in the mansion scenes.  The score features not only the best hits from the movie but the very best of the Whitney Houston catalogue prior to the movie too including “Queen of the Night”, “One Moment in Time”, “Greatest Love of All”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “I Will Always Love You”.

All in all, this is a breath-taking production which is well worth the ticket price.

THE BODYGUARD

4 – 14 March 2015

Mon - Sat 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat 2.30pm

Tickets: £18.50 - £57.50

Box Office 08448 717 648 (Bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Feb 10th

Return to the Forbidden Planet at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Glasgow’s King’s Theatre celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Return to the Forbidden Planet in style last night as a stellar cast blasted the audience into orbit!

Return to the Forbidden Planet is a musical revival based on a 1956 B-movie which, in turn, was based on a play written in the 17th century.  Sorry?  I’m not selling it?  OK, I’ll reveal that the sci-fi B-movie in question was the worldwide cult classic “Forbidden Planet” (the movie which introduced us to Robby the Robot) and the play upon which it was based was “The Tempest” written by the most famous bard of them all, William Shakespeare.  I will also add that the musical score is based on the best music from the late 50s and early 60s including hits like Good Vibrations, Gloria, Great Balls of Fire, Johnny B Goode and many, many more!

Captain Tempest (Sean Needham) leads the crew of the Starship Albatross on a routine survey mission when their ship is mysteriously drawn to the surface of Planet D’Illyria where we are introduced to scientist castaway Dr. Prospero (Johnathan Markwood) and his eerily pretty daughter, Miranda (Sarah Scowen).  Miranda falls instantly head over heels for Captain Tempest; blatantly ignoring the affections of young Cookie (Mark Newnham).  Meanwhile we discover that Prospero has some significant “previous” with the ship’s Science Officer (Christine Holman).  With all these hormones flying around, something was bound to blow … and that “something” comes in the form of a deadly tentacled “green eyed” monster which attacks the ship just in time for an interval cliffhanger (neatly delivered by Narrator, Brian May, via video feed).

So, with the scene set on the sturdy bridge of the Albatross and characters poised for love, lust and jealousy, surely all that is required for a successful musical is to add a hilarious script, a first class rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack and a few dance moves?  Yes, yes and yes!  All of these are delivered in spades … but that is only HALF of the joy of this musical.  Into the mix comes some crazily complex handheld radio mic-ography, hilariously intelligent dialog which lampoons 17th Century prose, Sci-fi movies and everything in between, brilliantly delivered B-movie effects and a joyous sense of togetherness from the cast that tells the audience that every performance is special and fun! Oh, did I neglect to mention that all of the music is played live onstage by the cast themselves?  Yes indeed, if this production wasn’t impressive enough, each of the characters plays an average of FOUR instruments each!

Onstage we find that individual performances come together beautifully to form a great ensemble show.  Sean Needham plays the stoic Captain like an American Richard Hannay.  Jonathan Markwood is a great protagonist as Prospero, strutting the stage in Dr Who-like tartan trews. Christine Holeman and Sarah Scowen provide the sax appeal (in more ways than one) and vocals from Ms Scowen, in particular, were stratospheric.  Mark Newnham gave the audience a great comic character and a first class guitar solo while Joseph Mann (as robot, Ariel) gave a lovely physical comedy performance.

With the music covering genres from rock ‘n’ roll to country via a beautifully blended a cappella number, there is something here for everyone.  Book your tickets quickly before they vanish into a black hole!

KING’S THEATRE , GLASGOW

Mon 9 – Sat 14 February

Mon - Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets: £12.90 - £48.40

Box Office: 0870 060 6648 (bkg fee)

www.ambassadortickets.com/glasgow  (bkg fee)

 

Feb 4th

To Kill A Mockingbird, Theatre Royal Glasgow 3rd -7th February 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

Being such a well-respected novel, with a revered film adaptation – how will a stage production of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird relate to a modern day audience?

unnamed (1).jpg 

This ingeniously staged production has shown it to be a complete success. So many people have their own connection to reading the novel which follows the story of young Scout Finch as she narrates about her life 1930s Deep South, where life is balmy and warm and racism was still rife as her father, Atticus, defends Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Timothy Sheader’s production links everyone with their connection with this story – the novel itself. The cast appear on stage reading excerpts from their own paperback copies in their own regional accents, wearing modern day clothing. They then remain at the side of the stage throughout, adding jackets, hats, shawls (and a southern drawl) to become the various characters in the story. Jon Bausor’s design of the open stage surrounded by “corrugated iron”, with the only set piece being a large tree with a tyre swing, aloows the story to move seamlessly to any location with the simple movement of a bed, table, chair in a choreographed movement that only adds to the feeling and emotion of the show as opposed to acting as a distraction.

 

With this sparse staging, it puts a lot of pressure onto the actors themselves – in particular the young cast who lead the majority of the production. In this performance, Ava Potter (pictured below with Connor Brundish as Dil and Arthur Franks as Jem)   excelled as Scout – her consistent accent and feisty nature were coupled with a warmth and charm that endeared her to the audience. Her assured performance matched that of her adult counterparts, with Daniel Betts(pictured above) providing a gentle and respectful Atticus. As an ensemble piece this show had an exceptional cast with not one weak link – Natalie Grady’s Miss Maudie was the southern neighbour everyone wanted and her narration out of character was full of variety and interest. Victoria Bewick’s own North East accent made her a great storyteller and the contrast with her Deep South accent as the “victim” Mayella showed a real skill. Zackary Momoh was so subtle and understated as the accused Tom Robinson, that you felt his pain and injustice before he even opened his mouth.

 unnamed.jpg

With the news this week that a long lost sequel to the original novel is to be released after 55 years, this is the perfect time to be reminded of the original – and this production is the best way to do this – flawlessly performed by an exceptional cast, don’t miss the chance to see the classic novel brought to life at the Theatre Royal Glasgow, until the 7th February.

 

Listing Information

 

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 08448 717 647 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

images (1) - Johann Persson, (2) - Christopher Akrill